Lou Yates (centre) Tweeted: Just two of the fab local community assets otherwise known as neighbours who helped create our #vicarsoakpath

Volunteers were praised by Bromley’s deputy mayor Cllr David Cartwright as he officially opened the new Vicar’s Oak path at the top of Anerley Hill, Crystal Palace on Saturday.

“This is an incredible project – community at its best.”

He said he and his wife Katie, the deputy mayoress, “”have only been doing this about two and a half weeks.

“We’ve been blown away at the amount of people we’ve met and the voluntary organisations we have met. “They have made us very, very humble.

“We value so much the work of our volunteers.”

He knew there had been a lot of involvement from young people in the project as well.

“Thank you on behalf of the people of Bromley and specifically to those people who have worked so hard to achieve this.

“There’s so much history in this area. “Just reading ‘The Vicar’s Oak’ booklet here is quite remarkable.”

The new path replaces the much walked-on green area at the entrance to the park opposite the vacant Grape and Grain pub. Now it includes a fallen oak from the Dulwich Wood estate with the words: ‘”Near this site stood the Vicar’s Oak an ancient boundary tree.”

Closer inspection of the lettering will see various historic facts about the area – along with some designs…….

Volunteers put the words on the letters based on archive research done by other local people.

Julia Honess, joint project co-ordinator, thanked local landscape designer Lou Yates who made the design “which was informed by the work of volunteers” and ceramicist Beth Mander who runs the Paxton centre on Anerley Hill..

Joint project coordinator Sue Giovanni said, “Volunteers have worked hard to create an accessible and attractive new entrance for the park and have been pleased with the interest and positive comments from passers-by.

“The Vicar’s Oak Path provides a focal point for the area and is already being used as a meeting place for local people, as well as for the boroughs.”

A volunteer added: “The whole project opens your eyes up to what’s going on in the community. “It is not something that just stops now the project’s finished. “It just goes on.”

Over the past two years, thanks to £45,700 funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund for the Boundaries project, local charity Invisible Palace, in partnership with the Crystal Palace Community Development Trust, has worked with local volunteers to collect oral histories carry out research and get involved in walks, talks and performance events relating to the area’s rich boundary history. The project included workshops with young people, exploring their attitudes to boundaries and the local area.

While a new path was always planned for the project, funding from Bromley council’s Crystal Palace Park community projects fund and local business Eastern Cuisine on Gipsy Hill made the funding of a more ambitious version possible.

Music was provided by local children and young people from Panash Steel Orchestra.

The tree stump at the centre of the path design is a fallen oak tree from Dulwich Woods, making it a descendant of the Great North Wood [Norwood] and was kindly donated by The Dulwich Estate. O’Rourke Contracting plc carried out the work on site and crucial to the project reaching fruition were both the London borough of Bromley’s highways and culture departments.

The path highlights the unique meeting place of the four boroughs of Bromley, Croydon, Lambeth and Southwark and is very close to the site of the Vicar’s Oak, a boundary oak that once the marked the boundaries of the parishes of Bromley, Camberwell, Croydon and Battersea (the hamlet of Penge was a detached portion of Battersea until 1888).

The Vicar’s Oak stood approximately where the traffic island is now located.

Part of the Vicar’s Oak booklet


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